A Soul's Tragedy

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A play by R. Browning, published 1846, together with Luria, as No. VIII of Bells and Pomegranates. It is a tragi‐comedy in two parts, the first in verse, the second in prose: the division of verse and prose represents Browning's idiosyncratic adaptation of Elizabethan and Jacobean models.

Chiappino, the ‘hero’, is a discontented liberal in 16th‐cent. Faenza, who, at the climax of Act 1, nobly (or egotistically?) takes on himself the punishment for the supposed assassination of the tyrannical provost by his friend Luitolfo. He expects to be lynched by the provost's guards, but is instead acclaimed by the people as their liberator, and is unable to resist the tempation of his new‐found role. The Provost turns out not to have been killed after all and, just as Chiappino is about to become the new Provost himself, he is unmasked by the papal legate Ogniben, who has sardonically played up to his self‐deceiving justification for seizing power. Ogniben, who had arrived in Faenza remarking that he had seen ‘three‐and‐twenty leaders of revolts’, utters the famous line ‘I have seen four‐and‐twenty leaders of revolts!’ as he watches Chiappino fleeing the town after his humiliation.

Subjects: Literature.

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